Friday, July 01, 2011
Harmless As Doves by P.L. Gaus
Author: Paul L. Gaus
Publisher: Ohio University Press, 2011
Hardcover, 184 pages
Genre: Cozy, #7 Amish Country Mystery
Source: The Poisoned Pen
First Line: Well before dawn, Bishop Leon D. Shetler was coaxed from sleep by the whispers of his morning chores, and he rose up and sat on the edge of his bed, honoring his custom of thanking God for the peace that rested over his household.
Bishop Shetler begins his morning chores with a small daydream of taking his beloved wife down to the Pinecraft Amish community in Florida for a vacation to escape the Ohio winter. Buses run down there every week. But that daydream is interrupted when young Crist Burkholder walks into the barn and says, "I just killed Glenn Spiegle."
An Amish murderer is unheard of, but Burkholder insists he hit and killed the man who wanted to marry the girl Burkholder loves. Sheriff Robertson has to take the young man to jail. When Cal Troyer arrives to see if he can be of help, he cautions Robertson that Burkholder will have no clue about the legal system and that the sheriff needs to proceed very carefully. Troyer also makes sure that the young Amish man has a lawyer.
Robertson seems determined to go his own way in the course of the investigation, so when certain facts don't add up-- and there are two related deaths in the Florida Amish community-- Troyer knows he has to call Professor Mike Branden away from his sabbatical to check things out down in the Sunshine State.
I enjoy this series, not only for the characters and the plots and the process of deduction, but for its depiction of the Amish community from multiple points of view. It was interesting to see how the death in Ohio tied in with the murders in Florida, but even more fascinating to me was how Gaus tells us about life among the Amish in the 21st century. Bishop Shetler is a wonderful man of God regardless of your religious perspective, and through him we are allowed to see how the Amish manage their money and their land-- as well as how the Bishop must face members who mentally abuse their wives and children, who travel in ways that are unapproved, who hide and use cell phones-- and who are led by greed.
Harmless As Doves is an excellent entry in this series, and I look forward to more.